What do you know about the worldwide chemical fertilizer industry? If you’re like most people, not much.
There’s plenty of press coverage and consumer awareness when it comes to genetically engineered food and crops, and the environmental hazards of pesticides and animal drugs. But the fertilizer industry? Not so much—even though it’s the largest segment of corporate agribusiness ($175 billion in annual sales), and a major destructive force in polluting the environment, disrupting the climate and damaging public health.
For instance, did you know that in 2010, Koch Industries was named “the world’s third-largest maker and marketer of nitrogen fertilizer,” according to the Wichita Eagle? Koch, infamous for its support of extreme right-wing politicians and climate deniers, is part of a large system “of buying, leasing, upgrading and expanding fertilizer manufacturing, trading and distribution facilities worldwide.” Koch even has a separate fertilizer unit, called Koch Agronomics.
Did you know that two-thirds of the U.S. drinking water supply is contaminated at high levels with carcinogenic nitrates or nitrites, almost all from excessive use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer? Some public wells have nitrogen at such a high level that it’s dangerous and even deadly for children to drink the tap water.
And what about this? According to ETC Group, synthetic fertilizers are a major contributor to climate-destroying greenhouse gases, and the estimated cost of environmental damage from reactive nitrogen emissions is between $70 billion and $320 billion in the European Union alone?
Whatever you know or don’t know about the chemical fertilizer industry, we bet you could have guessed this: Even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges the severe harm nitrogen fertilizer does to waterways, including to marine life and humans, the agency mostly turns its back. Instead of being forced to comply with permit regulations, private farming operations are allowed to “self-monitor.”
We all know how well that works.
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We’re feeling a little like a parent whose kids, once playing loudly in the next room, suddenly go radio silent. Leading us to wonder what they’re up to—and to fear that whatever it is, it’s not good.
Congress opened for business again this week, following a two-week Easter break. So far, there’s nothing new to report yet about Sen. Pat Roberts and his Monsanto-funded DARK Act.
But when Congress is open for business, it usually means just that—they’re open for business. And in the case of the DARK Act, that means they’re furiously working behind the scenes for Monsanto and the Junk Food Giants, plotting the next devious strategy for preempting Vermont’s GMO labeling law.
The latest rumor floating around? That Roberts and his merry band of labeling law preemptors may try to slip their DARK Act into the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, a bill (also sponsored by Roberts) fraught with its own controversy. After all, what better excuse for lawmakers than “hey, what did you want us to do? Let kids starve? We had no choice.”
We will remain skeptical, vigilant and active. Until we can state, with absolute certainty, that it’s over.
In the meantime, there’s one thing we know for certain: We (still) reject any federal GMO labeling bill unless it meets or exceeds the standards set by Vermont, and does not preempt, or delay implementation of Vermont’s bill.
TAKE ACTION: Tell your Senators: No compromise! Protect Vermont’s GMO labeling law. Dial 888-897-0174 to tell your Senators to vote against any compromise that would block or delay Vermont's bill from taking effect.
Help us protect Vermont’s GMO labeling law
“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” - Mahatma Gandhi
On April 22, the world will “celebrate” Earth Day again. Do you have plans for the day? Can we help?
Whether you’re headed to a local Earth Day celebration, community event or demonstration . . . or whether you’ll be stopping by your farmers’ market or local co-op, you can use the occasion to help spread the word about the plight of the honeybee, Monsanto’s GMOs, organic alternatives, or how to fight for truth and transparency in food labeling.
To make it easier for you, OCA has some Earth Day packets with posters, leaflets, petitions, and stickers. If it’s Monsanto you’d like to draw attention to, you can choose our Millions Against Monsanto packet which contains our Millions Against Monsanto and Monsanto Makes Us Sick materials (1 poster, 15 bumper stickers and 50 leaflets each) and our Truth-in-Labeling petition. Want to focus more on the relationship between food, agriculture and climate? We have a Cook Organic Not the Planet packet with our Cook Organic Not the Planet (2 posters, 15 bumper stickers, 50 leaflets) and Save the Bees (15 bumper stickers, 50 leaflets) materials and a sign-up for this email newsletter.
If you order now, you’ll have them in time for Earth Day. So you can spread the word. Because you never know. Prefer to download, rather than order? Here are some of our most popular leaflets:
• “Give Bees a Chance”
• “Cook Organic Not the Planet”
• “Are you eating Monsanto’s GMOs?”
• “Monsanto Makes Us Sick “
Order your Earth Day packet
The Consumer Federation of America held its annual National Food Policy Conference this week in Washington D.C. They called it “a key national gathering for those interested in agriculture, food and nutrition policy."
As far as we could tell, there wasn’t much discussion about how industrial, degenerative agriculture poisons our environment and our food, and contributes to global warming. Or how organic regenerative agriculture is our best bet for not only feeding the world, but also for cleaning up our global health crisis and drawing down excess carbon from the atmosphere.
There was talk, however, from the Justice Department about how it will continue to "vigorously prosecute food safety cases" against companies that sell contaminated food. According to the DOJ’s Ben Mizer, principal deputy assistant attorney general (whew!), the cases his department brings against food companies “help to educate the industry and to support the great work that the FDA, the USDA and others are doing.” By enforcing the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and other food safety laws, Mizer said his department helps to ensure that making safe food is “the best ethical and moral decision” because “no product plays a more important role in their lives.”
Don’t you feel safer, knowing that the DOJ is keeping your food safe?
Or do you wonder (like we did) that if the DOJ truly believes that no product plays a more important role in our lives than food, how it is that this esteemed agency hasn’t stepped in to stop Monsanto and others from growing our food (and killing our soils and polluting our waters) with all those poisons they sell? The ones like glyphosate and 2, 4-D, which the EPA, FDA and USDA continue to approve?
Nothing that happened at the National Food Policy Conference is surprising, given the influence Big Ag has on politicians and food policy. But it did serve as yet another reminder that the only people who will change our food system is us. The only ones truly fighting for food justice are conscious farmers and consumers.
Thankfully, there are millions of us. And we are on a mission for real justice.
Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)
Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)
Know any kids who share a passion for both filmmaking and healthy, non-GMO food?
Our anti-GMO campaigning friends in the U.K., Beyond GM, launched a cool project this week: Our Food Our Future. In a nutshell, the project is about starting an international conversation between kids, by asking them to make their own videos. From the website:
We want to get kids talking about food, about what they like, what they don’t like, what goes into the food they eat, how their families feel about things like GMOs, and how food can be a force for good and a healthy future or it can be something that fails to help us thrive.
Beyond GM especially wants to get kids in the U.S., who’ve grown up in a GMO-contaminated environment, eating GMO-contaminated foods, talking to kids in the U.K., where politicians (aided and abetted by Monsanto and U.S. politicians) are pushing to allow GMO crops to be grown for the first time. The project is an extension of Beyond GM’s “Living with GMOs: A Letter from America” project.
Beyond GM is inviting kids in America to make their own videos, and upload http://beyond-gm.org/video-submit/ them to
Watch the “Our Future, Our Food” launch video
Watch Daniel talk about GMOs
Check out the “Kids Speaking Out” YouTube Channel for more inspiration
Read the Beyond GM press release
Everything you need to know
Upload a video
Collapsing ice sheets. Violent megastorms. Giant waves hurling huge boulders. This is what our kids and grandchildren have to look forward to, if leading climate scientists are right.
In a 52-page study, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, James Hansen (the world’s top climate scientist) and 18 co-authors paint a bleak future for Planet Earth. Even the generally accepted 2 degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels would be far too much for the planet to bear, according to the scientists.
The study is chock full of numbers and charts and graphs and footnotes, representing years of investigation into old and new climate science evidence. But for all its complexity, it’s concluding statement, on page 41 (just before the 11 pages of citations) is very simple—and very clear:
We conclude that the message our climate science delivers to society, policymakers, and the public alike is this: we have a global emergency. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions should be reduced as rapidly as practical.
Will our policymakers and public heed Hansen’s warnings? Or will we, in Hansen’s words, “hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control?”
Read the study
Hospitals—the Most Dangerous Places in the World5 Disturbing Facts Big Food Doesn't Want You to KnowWorld Health Organization's New Q&A on Glyphosate Confirms Toxicity of RoundupNo Amount of 'Free From' Labeling Will Make Processed Food Good for YouIn W. Virginia, Frack Wastewater May Be Messing with HormonesGMO Mosquitoes Are Being Released into the Wild